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A trek to see the Sabyinyo Gorilla Family

23 July, 2013

From where we crossed the Park boundary, we trekked for about an hour and twenty minutes before we reached the trackers who has been sitting with the Sabyinyo Family since very early that morning. We found the 16 strong family with majority of the group still in their nests where they settled the night before. Some of the youngsters were playing about while the adults were finding the strength to remove themselves from their warm beds. Sounds a lot like us humans, doesn't it?



After about 10 minutes, GUHONDA finally lifted his head and starred at all the onlookers before giving a grunting OK for us to be there.


Shortly after that we were surprised by new Mom, KAREMA, showing off her 10 day old baby. Everyone huddled to one side to get a glimpse of the little one. The tiny pink face was only in view for about 10 seconds before it was carried off into the thick underbrush. What an amazing feeling it was to see such a tiny little baby in a species that has seen the brink of extinction. Dian Fossey herself believed that the Mountain Gorillas of the Virungas would not see the turn of the century, but thanks to her efforts and the awareness she created towards this amazing species, I was able to now stand in the home of the Mountain Gorillas and witness this incredible sight.

gorilla mother & baby 

The rest of the family started moving around while feeding on the lush green vegetation. Guhonda waited around for a few more minutes before he too got up and started feeding. We followed the family as they went about their day. A little ways off we came across GIHISHAMWOTSI, the second in charge Silverback. He carried a few minor bitewounds, most probably from a fight with Guhonda. The dominant Silverbacks in a family don't take kindly to their subordanants breaking rank. Gorillas heel remarkably well though. They would self-heel from wounds that would have us humans hospitalised in intensive care or even worse.

All too soon our 1 hour came to an end and we were given the command to pls take our last pictures as it was time to leave the Gorillas.

Photos and text by Nelis Wolmarans, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge manager

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